Falcon Northwest Mach V (Core i7 3930K review: Falcon Northwest Mach V (Core i7 3930K

Crysis (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200 (high, 4x aa)  
1,280x1,024 (medium, 4x aa)  

Far Cry 2 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
1,440x900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  

Metro 2033 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,560x1,600 (DirectX 11, very high)  
1,920x1,080 (DirectX 11, very high)  

3DMark 11 combined test (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Performance (1,920x1,080, 16x AF)  
Entry level (1,680x1,050)  

The gaming results look better for the Falcon and Velocity systems, but that's likely due to their high-end graphics card configurations rather than the new Intel chip. On Metro 2033 and on 3DMark 11, the two most current, and most demanding, game-related tests in our test suite, the two new PCs show appropriately dominant performance, for the most part. The new Mach V falls dramatically behind in our 2,560x1,600-pixel Metro 2033 test, which is likely due to its 1.28GB GeForce GTX 570 cards. In order to succeed on that benchmark, a graphics card really needs 1.5GB of memory or higher. Few other games, if any, will have that same issue, which makes Metro 2033 something of an outlier.

If potential Mach V buyers are discouraged by that result, I'll turn your attention to the 3DMark 2011 test, where the Falcon Northwest system won at every resolution. That test is arguably the most relevant indicator of general DirectX 11 performance, which speaks very well of the Mach V's gaming prospects overall. In general, you should expect to be play almost every game out there on the Mach V, and on its highest image quality settings. Our only words of warning come if you're a big Metro 2033 fan, or, potentially, if you're anticipating the forthcoming sequel, Metro: Last Light.

With three graphics cards inside, the Mach V has no room for card upgrades, but you do get the uncommon opportunity to use up to eight memory sticks. The four 4GB, 1,600MHz sticks currently in place should serve the majority of gamers for the foreseeable future. Content creators and other professional users should take note, though. You can also add four additional hard drives to the Mach V, with SATA 2.0 and 3.0 inputs available on the motherboard. Because of those mixed connection standards, Falcon Northwest does not prewire the backplane of the tool-free hard-drive slots to receive a new drive. That's a fair reason, but it's still a hassle if you want to preserve the streamlined interior cabling.

Per usual for high-end motherboards, the Mach V's Asus P9X79 Pro offers a cornucopia of inputs and outputs. The six USB 3.0 ports are a particular standout feature. You also get seven standard USB 2.0 ports, as well as two powered eSATA inputs. For audio you get a robust assortment of ports, including a set of 7.1 analog jacks, one of which doubles as a coaxial digital output. You also get an optical digital out, as well as audio output from the graphics cards via the Mini-HDMI port. Each card also offers a pair of DVI outputs, although Nvidia's graphics cards only support three concurrent displays, as opposed to AMD's six-way (and appropriately cumbersome) Eyefinity technology.

Juice box
Falcon Northwest Mach V (Core i7-3930K, fall 2011) Average watts/hour
Off (watts) 2.54
Sleep (watts) 7.63
Idle (watts) 253.1
Load (watts) 664.66
Raw (annual kWh) 1,262.97
Energy Star-compliant No
Annual power consumption cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $143.35

We like to say we're never surprised by the high power-draw figures that come with top-end gaming desktops, but the Falcon Northwest Mach V has set a new record in power consumption. A six-core CPU, three graphics cards, and a 1,200-watt power supply will need their share of power, and that translates to an estimated $143.35 in annual power bills for this PC, or just shy of $12 a month. Velocity Micro might consider renaming its Raptor Z90 the Rainbow Warrior, since its similarly fast setup looks downright eco-friendly at about $9 a month.

Falcon Northwest's service and support policies remain some of the best in the industry. The Mach V nets you three years of parts-and-labor warranty coverage as its default plan. Falcon also offers free shipping to and from its offices for repair. Phone support is not 24-7, but lines are open from a still-generous 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, seven days a week, and are staffed by an entirely in-house support team.

Conclusion
Boutique gaming desktops make sense for only a niche clientele. Boutique professional-level multithreaded PCs appeal to an even smaller market. If you're a pure gamer, you simply don't need the features Intel is offering with its new Core i7-3930K chips, since you can still buy the eminently overclockable Core i7-2600K for far less. Still, vendors like Falcon Northwest are best-suited to providing specialized builds like this Mach V. You'll pay a price for the statement-making chassis, but for some customers that's at least part of the reason to buy such a computer. If you need such a particular configuration, and you prefer your computers on the more visually expressive side, I can recommend this PC.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Alienware Aurora (Core i7-2600, spring 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K; 4GB 1,866MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 2GB AMD Radeon HD 6950 graphics cards; 1TB SATA 300 7,200rpm hard drive; 2TB SATA 600 7,200rpm hard drive

Digital Storm Ode Level 3 (Core i7-2600K, spring 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600K (overclocked); 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 graphics cards; 128GB Intel solid-state hard drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive

Falcon Northwest Mach V (Core i7-2600K, spring 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.6GHz Intel Core i7-2600K (overclocked); 16GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 graphics cards; 128GB solid-state hard drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

Falcon Northwest Mach V (Core i7-3930K, fall 2011)
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit; 4.4GHz Intel Core i7-3930K (overclocked); 16GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (3)1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 graphics cards; 128GB Crucial solid-state hard drive; 2TB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive

Maingear Vybe Super Stock (Core i7-2600K, summer 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4,5GHz Intel Core i7-2600K; 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560Ti graphics cards; 1TB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive

Velocity Micro Raptor Z90 (Core i7-2600K, fall 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.7GHz Intel Core i7-3930K (overclocked); 16GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 graphics cards; (2)128GB Patriot Wildfire solid-state hard drive; 2TB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Falcon Northwest Mach V (Core i7 3930K, fall 2011)

Part Number: CNET-Falcon-Northwest-Mach-V-Spring-2011 Released: Nov 14, 2011

MSRP: $4,995.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications

  • Release date Nov 14, 2011
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